PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT: IRISH MISSION LEADERS MEETING REPORT 2
9th March 2017
Last week, as the people of Northern Ireland were preparing to go to the polls, we published a first report on the vision that departmental leaders have for the Church in Ireland. The Northern Irish election campaign was run on the ticket of “change.” This week, the results of the election are out. There has been some change of leadership, but many of the issues remain the same and we continue to pray for the politicians as they try to work together.
Fortunately for leaders in the Irish Mission it was not necessary to run a campaign filled with promises. Even though we are fresh into a new leadership cycle, many good things have already been happening and there is a spirit of optimism. This is our second report on the discussions at the leaders’ meeting. We think it is worth sharing the details:
Pastor Tony O’Rourke has been appointed as the prayer co-ordinator for the Irish Mission. “We are only successful in God’s mission as far as everything that we do is steeped in prayer,” was his message. “Prayer should be central to everything we do.”
He has immediately begun to implement plans to highlight prayer. “People need somewhere to share prayer requests,” he says. “With the help of the website team, we have set up a place to submit prayer requests on the Irish Mission Website. Any request will be seen, and immediately distributed to prayer teams across the Mission.” Here he needs the help of local congregations: “We are requesting every church to set up a prayer team that will pray, and give testimonies of answered prayer.” Churches have been asked to set aside regular Sabbaths to focus on prayer. There should be regular sermons on Prayer.
“I hope to arrange a prayer retreat for the Irish Mission soon,” he reported. In the meantime, he explains what he does to keep his own prayer life alive. “I have learned to use daily devotionals. I have three devotionals that I use and I read something every day. I find that the devotionals focus my mind on Scripture and on spiritual themes. They give me a topic to pray about, and it helps my prayers to become a two-way process where I listen and respond to God.”
Pastor Dan Serb, responded to pastor Tony’s presentation saying, “We can be very professional in what we do. We can use the best media and equipment. We can use the best skills, but more than anything we need to bring with us a daily connection with our God. Never stop praying!”
Betty O’Rourke, shared her vision for the Health Ministries department. “Health is not just a luxury or an optional extra that we add on to our lives. We were created for health and designed for health. Irish people have always known this, it is embedded in our language. When we wish somebody well, we say ‘Sláinte’ which literally means health. ‘Slán leat’, a common way of saying good-bye, also literally means ‘health with you.’ We have lost some of this as our society began to accommodate to the rest of the world. Choosing health, is really a matter of returning to our Irish roots.”
Betty, who is a nurse with many years of experience in general nursing, mental health nursing and counselling, has already begun to visit churches to encourage them. She’s beginning by focussing on the smaller churches. She shared how local churches could benefit in their community relations by running health expos, vegetarian cooking classes. “It’s a way to make friends without making a big thing about Church. It also changes lives and often brings hope to people.”
Pastor Dan Serb, while being the president of the Irish Mission, also took on the responsibility of championing stewardship around the Mission. He has been sharing various stewardship resources with the churches, but there is one message that he would like to share with all the churches that he visits. “Many of our church members come from other areas in the world. There is often the impulse to prioritise sending tithes and offerings ‘home’, rather than to return them to the local church. The world church always encourages members to return tithe in the local church.” Addressing members who come from other countries, he says, “The Lord has brought us to Ireland for a reason and wants us to be a blessing to the community locally. It is much more difficult for the church to fulfil its calling if we do not get support from our members locally.” His message is, “We will be able to become a far more effective witness for the Kingdom of God in Ireland if you support your local church.” Pastors and departmental leaders wholeheartedly supported pastor Dan in his presentation and committed to help bring this message to their churches.
There were other presentations on the day. Shupai Matewa of the Children’s Ministries department explained how she had begun to collect resources for her work and that she plans to visit churches soon. Clid Negosanu, Communication sponsor explained his goal to help churches set up friendly and up to date websites. His big passion however is to employ modern communication technologies to not only promote local churches, but to share the gospel with people who would not otherwise make their way into churches.
Pastor Lawerence Johnston reported on tremendous progress in renovating a newly acquired church property in Cork. Brad and Sheri Bushey shared details of their Serendipity drop-inn centre in Waterford. These will be reported separately by the Irish Mission news team.
“The Irish Mission is small, but it is a busy place,” remarked Joan Birch as she reflected on the various presentations. “We definitely punch above our weight in bringing resources to our members and hope to the world.”
[ - Irish Mission Communication]